June 10, 2016
What should have been my first “cruise to nowhere” to test out my ability to navigate toward a specific point didn’t turn out that way. I don’t know if there even was a small craft advisory, but there probably should have been. With very rough water — easily 4 foot waves at one point — and top winds I measured at over 18 mph, I found myself having a very unpleasant experience.
Mind you, I could have waited to go out, but since I had taken the day off from work, that didn’t make any sense. Correction: patience and looking at the forecast always makes sense, which I learned the hard way today.
Starting out, I kept the main reefed and didn’t deploy the Genoa, and was still making very slow progress toward the bay. I was going between 3.5 and 4.5 knots, but it felt like I was practically standing still. My hope was that without the same current in the bay, it would be better sailing. Well, the bay was exactly the opposite, which is probably why other boats were coming in from the bay rather than going out. When I finally decided to turn around because that first part of the bay as so tough, I ran into trouble. The waves were much bigger and the boat started heeling like crazy and I was scared. Without either a topping lift or boomkicker, when I tried to douse the main, the boom fell into the cockpit. Eventually I was able to salvage forward movement with the engine (thank you, Hercules!) and once I felt I had better control. I opened the Genoa about ¼ of the way and motorsailed back toward the marina. Once safely in the river, the wind variously died and picked up and I sailed for another couple of hours back and forth and even got close to the bay again before deciding once was enough.
Coming back into the slip was a heck of a lot easier than heading out. One of the marina employees came by and asked “Heading out?” and I replied, “No, just coming back in, though with the looks of the weather, I should have been going out now instead.